And so it ends, after 42 years the Star Wars trilogy extended to nine films draws to a close. Disney, owners of the franchise indicated there will be a break before whatever comes next, maybe that’s for the best.
With “Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams back at the helm, there was some tidying up to be done especially around Rey’s parentage. Previous director Rian Johnson took the saga in a “different” direction much to some fans displeasure, which exposed the lack of an overarching story-line.
The film opens breathlessly, charging from one scene to the next, leaving no chance for any situation to truly open out and breathe. “Rey” (Daisy Ridley) returns, clearly with some unfinished business with “Kylo Ren” (Adam Driver). The majority of the film is taken up with a continuing light-sabre battle between the two, whether in person or virtually via the force, which grows stronger in them both.
Abrams has managed to weave Carrie Fisher into the story via archival footage from the previous film and this works well enough, providing a fitting swansong for the late actress. “Poe” (Oscar Isaac), “Finn” (John Boyega) and “Chewbacca” (Joonas Suotamo) reprise their characters and together with “R2-D2” and “C3PO” (Anthony Daniels) get to enjoy most of the space battle scrapes, very reminiscent of early Star Wars.
It is obvious joint screenplay writers (Chris Terrio and Abrams) are paying close attention to fan complaints of the previous film. Arguably fan service is not always the best approach, be careful what you wish for is an appropriate caveat.
The film hits all the usual beats, space battles, strange alien creatures, brief Ewok’s and a ridiculous “horse” riding cavalry charge on a Star Destroyer, in high orbit space. Why oh why is there always one single point of failure, did the “First Order” learn nothing?
Every Star Wars movie requires an ultimate bad guy and with Kylo frequently flip-flopping his allegiance and “Snoke” somewhat indisposed, “Emperor Palpatine” is back (Ian McDiarmid). With his resurrection barely explained, this does at least provide an opportunity for a final “end level” good vs evil clash.
The usual pantomime style villains are also present, with many storm-troopers and disposable “First Order” generals. Domhnall Gleeson aided this time by a snarling Richard E. Grant, although one character is somewhat undercut by a rather improbable event.
Driver and Ridley get most of the emotional heavy lifting and do not disappoint but the story does them few favours, seemingly darting all over the place to tidy loose ends. We also get several brief cameos from famous faces and “Jedi” voices, which adds and subtracts in equal measure.
Reviewing Star Wars is difficult, what once seemed awe inspiring and iconic arguably is now less so. With more morally complex films now in vogue, it is much easier to pick fault, notice plot holes and improbabilities we ignored before. For those who have grown up with the series, perhaps it’s time to accept we are no longer the target audience.
Somewhat underwhelming but enjoyable enough and taken on it’s own merit, still worth spending two hours forgetting about the real world.
A tidy ending to the saga, which no doubt will please and frustrate in equal measure,
Realistically, was this ever going to end exactly the way you wanted?